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Who Invented Tennis? The Answer Will Surely Surprise You

Who Invented Tennis?
If you want to know about the history of tennis and how it all started, you have come to the right page. Keep reading...
Shashank Nakate
Last Updated: Dec 10, 2017
The history of tennis is complicated and not so straightforward. There are many different opinions and views about the origin of this game. It is hard to name its sole inventor. However, it is a commonly accepted fact that the modern game of tennis descended from 'jeu de paume', a French game also known as the game of palms.
As the name suggests, 'jue de paume' was played with bare hands (without racquets), and later on gloves were used. The different games of tennis which originated from 'jeu de paume' were known as 'real tennis', 'court tennis', and 'royal tennis', in Great Britain, United States, and Australia respectively.
The Invention of Tennis
The modern game of lawn tennis was invented by Harry Gem and Augurio Perera, somewhere between 1859 and 1865. Lawn tennis was invented by combining the two games, 'racquets' and 'pelota'. Earlier, 'lawn racquets' and 'lawn pelota' were the names assigned to this game, which finally became lawn tennis. Harry Gem and Augurio Perera played this game in Edgbaston on a croquet lawn.
In the year 1873, rules for the game called 'Sphairistike' were published by Major Walter Clopton Wingfield. Sphairistike or Sticke was played in enclosed courts with low pressure balls and racquets. Mr. Wingfield formalized the game in 1874, by patenting the rules and equipment in London.
History of Tennis
Origin of the word tennis can be found in French words like 'tenez' (to take), 'tendere' (to hold), or 'tenir' (hold this). The Arabic word 'rahat' is said to be the origin of the word racquet. Rahat in Arabic means 'palm'. It is believed that different versions of tennis were played in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. A simplified form of handball was played by French monks during the 11th and 12th century. Ropes were strung across a courtyard to play this game.
Facts about Tennis
Here's something interesting:
  • The increase in popularity of tennis lead to the construction of indoor courts; the game was earlier played only in open courtyards.
racket with a tennis ball
  • The ball used for tennis was made from wool, wad of hair, etc. Racquets were earlier made from sheep gut.
  • The first tennis championship (Wimbledon) on a professional level was played in the year 1877.
  • In 1881, the formation of the United States Tennis Association took place.
  • The US Open tennis championship started in 1881; women participants joined from the year 1887.
  • The International Lawn Tennis Federation (today's International Tennis Federation) set the tennis rules in 1924.
Invention of Tennis Balls
Nobody is credited with the invention of tennis balls due to the fact that it saw a gradual improvement in the quality. Tennis balls of the olden times were made from wool and leather. Rubber balls were made by Charles Goodyear; these balls were stitched with felt. The process of rubber vulcanization (1870s) lead to the development of these rubber balls.
Charles Goodyear
Later on, rubber balls were made hollow to improve their playability. Nowadays, tennis balls utilize material having a complex chemical composition; these balls are mostly manufactured in Southeast Asia. Pressureless tennis balls are the newest in terms of improvement in technology. They maintain their bounce without undergoing much wear and tear. Companies like 'Penn' and 'Trenton' popularized these pressureless balls.